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Environmental Madness (VI)

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3. Global Warming Is More a Religion than Science

The book Aquecimento Global: ciência ou religião? [Global Warming: Science or Religion?], launched in Brasilia in late 2009 by Prof. Gustavo Macedo de Mello Baptista challenges the “dogma” of man-made global warming and calls for a scientific debate. With many illustrations and graphs, it shows how the planet’s climate follows a natural dynamic with alternating cycles of cooling and heating, without human interference.

 

Adding a good dose of irony to scientific arguments, and thus a little salt to the controversy, Prof. Gustavo Baptista explains how the natural oscillations of solar, oceanic, volcanic activity and other elements affect the global temperature. Along with other Brazilian scientists, he challenges the vaunted global warming theory promoted by politicians and the media without sufficient scientific basis. A number of scientists even exaggerate and distort the role of human activity, thus waging a true “climate terrorism.”

 

In order to provide the readers with authoritative opinions that differ from the position of UN agencies and the media in general, we reprint below, grouped by subject, excerpts from an interview by Prof. Gustavo Baptista to Catolicismo magazine (No. 715, July 2010.) He is associate Professor at the Institute of Geosciences of the University of Brasilia (UNB), with a degree in geography from UNB (1994), a master’s in Environmental Technology and Water Resources (1997) and a Ph.D. in geology from the same university (2001). He is experienced in geosciences with an emphasis on remote sensing and environmental risk and impact assessment.

a) Climate Change Does Not Depend on Man

“I believe in climate change, yes; and I believe that we are entering a new phase of global cooling due to the low solar activity observed so far in Cycle 24 and predicted by the Gleisberg Cycles, in addition to the new cold phase of Pacific decadal oscillation. What I do not believe is that man is responsible for the global climate. Locally, it is another story!

 

 Together with solar activity the oceans are the major regulators of global climate. But I would include the importance of volcanoes, because the ashes they throw into the air block the entry of solar radiation and thus have a participation in the global climate. The Mount Pinatubo volcano in the Philippines in 1992 was responsible for a reduction of 0.5° C (0.9 ° F) in global temperature over three years. Comparatively, warming in the last 100 years has been of the order of 0.7° C (1.3 ° F). Recently, the eruption of Eyjafjallajoekull volcano in Iceland caused chaos in European air transportation, but also the coldest and rainiest spring of the past few years in Portugal. So you see that volcanoes have their share of responsibility for the global climate.”

b) The Weather Can Be Unstable, But the Climate Is Stable

“Weather is the momentary state of the atmosphere in a given locality. It is highly variable. In May I attended a seminar in on Physical Geography in Portugal. On the day we arrived the morning was very cold; soon, close to lunch time it started to rain, then it dried up and warmed up; and by the end of the day, the cold and drizzle returned. In a single day, we experience various states of the atmosphere (weather) as well as an atypical rain resulting from the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano. Meteorologists are the ones who deal with this realm of science.

 

“Now, the weather is defined as the average of climatic elements (temperature, precipitation, wind, solar radiation, etc.) for a period of at least 30 years. So climate has to do with a historic track record, and we geographers are those responsible for this area. I have an acquaintance who studied the water behavior on a hillside in Scotland for two years for his doctoral degree. He was lucky because the first year was the driest of the decade, and the following the wettest one, and nothing could be better than extremes for him to understand how water behaves on this hillside. However, he was unable to characterize the climate of that slope with only two years.”

c) Alternative Energy for Those Who Have No Alternative

Global Warming - Science or Religion
Global Warming - Science or Religion

“In the last chapter of my book Aquecimento Global: ciência ou religião? [Global Warming: Science or Religion?] (Editora Hinterlândia, 2009, 188 p.) I analyze alternative sources and say that ‘the solutions encountered to minimize the effects of global warming conceptually rely on a current called “ecological modernization,” which is based on the internalization by political institutions of concerns over environmental issues aiming to reconcile such concerns with economic growth.

 

This is possible through the adoption of so-called ‘clean technologies’. But they are usually expensive and inaccessible to the poor. It is one thing for reunified Germany to adopt environmentally sound technologies, but quite another for Mozambique to do so.

 

“Furthermore, these alternative sources are inefficient and fail to meet the demand as those based on fossil fuels. I watched a documentary on British Channel 4, which showed a hospital in the hinterland of Africa, that had received a photovoltaic solar energy generator from an environmental NGO. And people faced an impasse: they either connected the refrigerator or turned the light on, as the energy generated was insufficient to do both. This is cruel. One thing is to opt for environmentally friendly products and to be able to pay more for them; it is something else to push expensive technological solutions that do not solve the problem.

 

“I know a bio-fuel project based on vegetable oil, funded by JICA, which is being implemented in northwestern Natal and aims to alleviate poverty. Families will plant sunflower, process its oil in a cooperative, and there is an agreement with Petrobrás to purchase the oil. In other words, these individuals are inserted in a closed production chain that generates wealth, minimizes poverty, and gives dignity to participants. I think it is fantastic.”

d) People Can Be Manipulated by Fear

“Fear is always the best way to impose something. In a way, this tends to be more comfortable, because questioning can place someone who advocates a position against the wall, especially if he is not sure of his convictions or has not studied the issue in depth. In my classes, when I broach on the subject of global warming, it is very common for students to manifest their discontent with the matter. I respect their convictions. If anyone’s beliefs differ from mine he must have legitimate arguments and believe in them. I do not try to convince people that I am right but expound my thinking and buttress my exposition with arguments. I discuss ideas, not dogmas, so that I may be presented with arguments that make me adopt other points of view. This is how science evolves; and the most exciting factor in the history of science is how concepts evolve and ideas move forward.

“However, you don’t discuss science with these people. A class that I detest has thus appeared: ‘bio-unpleasant’ or ‘eco-Shia’ individuals, as you prefer. Environmental arguments have turned into debates about dogmas of faith, and anyone who opposes the eco-truths will be condemned to burn at the stake. Except that this new global warming inquisition cannot send anyone to the fire because wood and our bodies are made of carbon, and burning them would release gases that increase global warming…”[1]

 

Heating or freezing? Time magazine of January 31, 1977 carried a front cover story titled “The Big Freeze,” referring to another moment of transition between cooling and warming periods. On April 3, 2006 the same magazine changed its 1977 stance by reporting on global warming with the title: “Be worried. Be very worried.”

 

Time Magazine

[1] Cf. Catolicismo, No. 715, July 2010.

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